3 pangolin peddlers held

Adelaide Moyo Chronicle Reporter
THE love for quick money has landed three men from Victoria Falls in jail after they were arrested while attempting sell a live pangolin. Pangolins are an endangered and protected species. Francis Phiri, 35, who is a general hand in Aerodrome suburb, Sweeter Muzamba, 28, of Chinotimba suburb and Jabulani Nyathi, 41, who is employed as a housekeeper at Kingdom Hotel appeared before Victoria Falls magistrate Rangarirai Gakanje last Friday.

They were charged with possessing a protected species. Phiri, Muzamba and Nyathi, who are represented by Thulani Nkala of Dube and Company pleaded not guilty to the crime. They were released on $100 bail each and remanded to December 15 for trial.

The trio was also ordered to reside at their given addresses, not to interfere with State witnesses and to report at ZRP Victoria Falls every Friday. In denying the charge, the trio said they picked up the animal at a local church and were arrested while on their way to hand it over to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

Prosecuting, Listen Nare said the accused persons called Austin Sibanda whom they intended to give the pangolin so that he could find a buyer on their behalf.

“Francis Phiri was tasked by Austin Sibanda to look for old coins on his behalf in Victoria Falls. On October 27, Sibanda received a phone call from Phiri who told him he had found a pangolin,” said Nare. The old Z$2 coins are also called pangolins because they are emblazoned with the animal.

The court later heard Sibanda later discovered the pangolin was a live one. Sibanda, Nare said, alerted cops who set a trap for the trio. Sibanda lured the three to a spot near the Victoria Falls International Airport for the transaction.

“In the company of detectives, Sibanda then proceeded to the 417km peg along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road. Sibanda was in the police car when the accused arrived driving a red Toyota Passo with the pangolin inside,” said the prosecutor.

The court heard the detectives pretended to ask for water for their vehicle’s radiator and saw the animal which was in a cardboard box placed at the back of the car. “The detectives identified themselves and Muzamba and Nyathi drove off at high speed leaving Phiri at the scene. The pangolin was still in the car. Phiri was arrested and assisted cops to track down his alleged accomplices,” said Nare.

The pangolin was recovered the on the following day in Chinotimba.

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